Brazil for New Years, Part 1

Brazil for New Years, Part 1

Last August, my wife and I decided to meet up with friends in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a tropical New Year’s to start off 2023 differently than we normally do, celebrating in NYC.  I looked around various programs and found an amazing deal via Avianca LifeMiles for 12k one way from NYC-Sao Paulo with a connection in Bogota, with a cheap Sao Paulo-Rio connecting flight, and then a return flight via Delta Skymiles for 88k per person.  

The Delta flight was perhaps not the best deal, but one of the best you can get around New Year’s, one of the most difficult times of the year to get an award flight, and combined with the Avianca flight, a great deal overall.

Avianca no longer offers business class service, but they still have their older business class hardware, and you can upgrade for as little as $50 per leg; definitely worth it for the redeye portion, but it was so cheap we decided to do both legs, which were actually paid for by my Ritz Carlton Chase card, which offers a $300 annual airline fee credit.  But even without the credit, worth upgrading via cash.  The flights were interesting, which I’ll write about later, but they got us to Rio cheaply and with space to spread out.

We landed in Rio at 6am, breezed through immigration and grabbed an Uber to our hotel for the first night, the Emiliano Rio.  A small, boutique hotel that stands out compared to the legacy chain Rio hotels, the Emiliano was a warm, welcoming stay and a great first experience in Brazil.  Though we arrived around 8am and our room was not ready, they were able to turn it over for 12pm, while we met up with our friends who had already arrived, for breakfast nearby, at the Confeitaria Colombo, located at the Fort Copacabana, a 15 minute walk from the hotel.  

After breakfast, full and starting to get tired, we retired to the hotel for a few hours.  When we entered the room, samba music was playing, a really nice touch.  The room was large and modern, with a great bathroom and tub, and, surprisingly, a Toto bidet!  

After our nap, I went for a run at the hotel gym, located on second to the top floor of the hotel.  Though small, it was clean and had the basics, and most importantly, the best view out of any gym I’ve ever seen. 

Of course, this view was rivaled by the view from the hotel pool, with its infinity pool overlooking the Rio beach.  We sadly did not have enough time to really enjoy this, but I’d definitely come back for that part alone.

After carousing with our friends around Rio, the next day we had the delight of experiencing breakfast at the Emiliano, which was included with our stay, as I had booked our stay through Amex’s FHR program, which gives you numerous benefits like 4pm checkout, free breakfast, a property credit, and more.  Furthermore, our stay was discounted by half since the Amex Personal Platinum gives you an annual $200 FHR credit.  Breakfast was amazing - we could order the run of the menu, as many dishes as we wanted, and all were of smaller size than we were used to, so we could try many different things.  The french toast was one of the best I’ve ever had.  And all this in a beautiful, green jungle - a cozy, bright breakfast nook taken to another level.

More to come!